The Best and Worst of Amazon’s “All or Nothing” Carolina Panthers (Episode #5/8)
Well, now it’s Amazon’s turn to show us what they got. The past week or so, we looked at the BEST and WORST of HBOs’ Hard Knocks (2018 Cleveland). We have the 2018 (season) Carolina ‘All or Nothing’ (2019 release) to review – eight episodes. I’ll watch and review each episode over the next week or so.
Typically, I like the Amazon production better than the HBO…but I like them both. A look behind the scenes that I still cannot believe the NFL allows to happen because it exposes how silly these people (coaches and GMs) look in real life/real time. And I’ve watched/reviewed them all…and they’re all the same nonsense management – except Sean McVay…you could tell right away he was different.
Let’s see what we have with the BEST and WORST of Amazon’s Carolina Panthers’ 2018 season!
We’ve hit the halfway point of the series. The Panthers are 4-2 going into this episode. They will rise to 6-2 before the wheels start to fall off at Pittsburgh at the end of this episode. Let’s see what happened by looking at the BEST and WORST of episode #5…
BEST: Cam’s Shoulder Issues
Week 8 is where Cam’s shoulder issues resurfaced publicly. He was sat out of practice most of the week. We see Cam concerned and rehabbing his shoulder early on in this episode.
What’s the BEST about this is – the media is panting like dogs during the midweek press conferences…they are so worried about whether Cam can be OK on Sunday without practicing most of the week. Cam then goes out Week 8, with limited practice, and has (arguably) his best game of the season…thumping the Ravens.
Guess what happens the week leading up to Week 9, after Cam dropped the Ravens on their heads? Cam is held out during practice and the media is still worried/asking the same dumb questions. Cam goes out and smokes the Bucs and the Panthers rise to 6-2 and Cam is in the MVP discussion.
BEST: I’m Starting To Like Cam…
I’ve never been a big Cam guy. Not my cup of tea as a passer, and he strikes me mostly as a self-centered baby in most interactions I’ve seen or had with him. However, he seems to have matured some…or I just had a bad read on him from his younger days. Maybe it’s the wild outfits. Maybe next episode it all comes apart…
The more I see him in this documentary, the more I see it doesn’t really matter what his personality is…because he has a gift like none other. Not a great passer by trade, but good enough because of his feet opening up passing opportunities.
You just have to let Cam be Cam.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Cam to get flustered when things go wrong…but jumping out to a 6-2 start, everyone is happy. When they show us the Week 10 ass-kicking the Steelers put on them in this episode…I was fully expecting Cam to turn pouty, but we only saw him be patient and encouraging in this crisis.
Four more episodes to go…we’ll see if ‘liking’ Cam is the kiss of death and he’ll go bonkers when the losing streak unfolds the next few episodes.
BEST: Ron Rivera, MVP of This Entire Series…
I’ve been saying it every episode, but Rivera might have had his finest moments here in this episode. Last season, Week 10, the 6-2 rolling Panthers went to Pittsburgh for a big TNF game. The Panthers could really send a message with a win at Pitt. Instead, they play their worst game of the year and get humiliated.
I see a lot of coaches screaming and yelling a bunch of nonsense all the time. They scream and yell so much that their message is lost in the nonstop rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat. They cry wolf/’lazy’ and ‘focus’ so much/all the time that the team doesn’t pay attention to the white noise. Rivera is not like that. So, when he senses his team was shell-shocked/down big at halftime of the Steelers game he stepped in and gave a great motivational speech – laced with F-bombs, but pertinent. Not ugly/angry swearing but trying to rally a rattled group…perfect timing for Rivera to reach into his leadership bag.
It didn’t work, however. The Panthers got spanked.
Still, every interaction I see the coaches of Carolina have with the players – it’s controlled, smart, and respectful. Usually, the coaches on these shows are full scale cartoon characters. The Panthers staff is totally the opposite of buffoons. Maybe the best acting top-to-bottom staff I’ve seen.
Being great leaders is just one part of the equation. You can be an awesome leader but cannot judge football talent and can’t X & O properly and you’re in trouble overall. Ron Rivera is at risk of being dragged down by Norv Turner…as is his recent history and it’s the little things Norv does a terrible job of assessing. Nice guy…weak O-C.
BEST/WORST: Curtis Samuel scores two TDs in a game…
My best example of Norv killing the team…he still has yet to give into Curtis Samuel as his best WR (at this point in 2018 season)…and Ron Rivera didn’t push it either. Samuel should’ve been a starter as soon as he was cleared for play (had an irregular heartbeat first few weeks). All Samuel is doing is scoring TDs, and not just right-place-right-time TDs, he’s a human highlight reel…and, yet, we see Jarius Wright and Torrey Smith getting the majority of snaps. Embarrassing. Even the mainstream media was writing about ‘Why isn’t Curtis Samuel getting the ball more?’ articles midseason. Turner, per usual, knows more than you so he digs in and doesn’t change anything.
He will soon.
Samuel scores two great TDs against Tampa Bay and this documentary barely acknowledged them or him. There has not been the words ‘Curtis Samuel’ uttered in this whole series so far. Their best WR…buried by Norv, approved by Ron, buried by Amazon now.
It’s a game of inches and one win/loss can change everything…and Curtis Samuel is a ‘+’ player who is not on the field/touching the ball enough. A giant wasted opportunity right in front of Norv’s face.
Don’t forget he had 2018 NFL Weeks 14-17 MVP C.J. Anderson…and just cut him midseason. Barely got him the ball when he had him. Why just drop CJA? Could CJA have had a role and helped CMC like he did Gurley? These are the things we need to look at Norv and ask “What the hell, man? You have one job!” He has terrible WRs starting, good ones sitting. Keeps pushing/rushing back Olsen when Ian Thomas is more explosive in 2018 (it’s not 2015 anymore). Ignored and cut C.J. Anderson, who obviously had juice left in the tank. Instead, he brings his son in to coach the QBs. He brings in Jarius Wright and Taylor Heinicke from his time in Minnesota. This was your big takeaway from your time in Minnesota? Wright and Heinicke? What were you looking at with your time off from football? Obviously not scouting the league for talent. You wouldn’t recognize it if you tried anyway.
Ron Rivera, who I now love…goes down with this Norv ship. That’s my Rivera concern…great leader, average football talent assessor, especially on offense.
WORST: Insolent Donte Jackson…
The best part of this episode was the Donte Jackson part. The rookie CB has been starting since Week 1, making interceptions, but apparently making a ton of mistakes as well. But everyone thinks he’s great because of the picks (also known as Marcus Peters syndrome).
The Panthers handle this beautifully, but Jackson handles it in a way that will get him sent packing like Josh Norman in the coming years.
First, we see an assistant DB coach is trying to work with Jackson reviewing film and Jackson throws a fit and doesn’t want to hear the criticism and is bordering on insubordinate.
Second, we see the veteran DBs take Jackson aside for a special 3-on-1 meeting, especially with his Antonio Brown battle coming up, and Jackson refuses to listen, makes excuses, acts/has the body language of a spoiled 8-year old.
Third, Jackson gets beat for a long TD by Antonio Brown in the game. Jackson comes off the field crying and throwing stuff because he feels Antonio interfered. The defensive coordinator comes over to re-focus him and Jackson won’t even look at him or acknowledge his words.
Fourth, Rivera gets into his face during halftime of the Steelers game to try to rally Jackson…that, at least, Jackson finally looks at the person speaking to him.
The Panthers have a problem here. Jackson is wildly talented and wildly immature, and you see he’s just a problem waiting to happen, especially when he gets paid. If Rivera is still there, look for Jackson to be traded before his contract time.
BEST: David Tepper, Pittsburgh Native
We get to see a little more of the owner here, more just him reminiscing on a trip back to Pittsburgh where he’s from and was a minority owner. The guy is just a nice dude. He’s not a politician or attention-whore. He’s a humble billionaire having fun like a regular/normal fan.
Keep Tepper and Rivera together, get rid of Norv, get a better O-C, keep Cam healthy, make Curtis Samuel the #1 WR, move on from Greg Olsen (he USED to be good/great) – you might have a Super Bowl run again. Just not in 2019…the schedule is too brutal.
Onto episode #6…the one where Devin Funchess is finally dealt with/exposed, it looks like. Which means the rise of Curtis Samuel, finally…but also the losing streak and the loss of Cam are coming too.
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